I’m afraid I have very little use for teachers whose first reaction to any accountability measures — particularly those of NCLB — is shock, indignation, and lame rhetoric like that in the post title above. Ron Wolk describes the educational heroism of Rhode Island and New Hampshire in Teacher Magazine:
Students still have to take and pass courses, but the courses are being redesigned to be competency based. That means students will have to demonstrate mastery of content—not through memorization, but through performance, portfolios, or projects that encourage them to think and solve problems with hands-on activities. Students may perform a musical recital, make a significant oral presentation, write a major essay, or submit a portfolio of cumulative work from different disciplines.
I don’t want to make this all about my assessment methods, but I do want to give a shout out to RI and NH, ’cause, yeah, competency-based assessment is awfully satisfying — both for students and teachers.
They’re taking it places I haven’t gone, though. Right now, my students prove concept mastery on written exams. Occasionally a student will come in and give an oral demonstration of competency, but those are pretty far between. The sheer generosity of RI and NH’s assessment methods knocks me back a few feet.
Why aren’t more teachers adopting competency-based assessment? Or even a performance-based model? Because it takes a lot of time — both out of class to design the assessments (though that’s a one-time cost to the teacher) and in class to ensure that seat-hours are maximized.
And it’s far easier for some of these hacks to complain about NCLB than concede they waste minutes a day, which compound to hours on the week, days on the year. Which is all NCLB’s fault, of course.